Friday, October 07, 2011

Open Thread Friday

Anybody attend the second Intermediate Capacity Management meeting?

Saturday community meetings - Carr, Sundquist and Smith-Blum.  Given what I have read about the Board meeting, it might be worth chatting them up about MAP, capacity management and, for Carr and Sundquist, really pin them down on governance versus management.

What's on your mind?


RosieReader said...

Does anyone have any insight into the process of how to arrange for a "private" exchange student in SPS? We're hoping to have a family friend with us next year. If yes, can I connect with you offline to get info?

StopTFA said...

Fun times at Federal Way Public Schools with TFA. They got a better deal and protected their certificated teachers.

FWPS-TFA emails

westie said...

West Seattle Blog covered the meeting, with video.

suep. said...

Buses. It's been four weeks now since the school year started -- how's the new bus schedule system working out for everybody?

SPS cut 80 buses from the routes this year in an effort to save money, and switched bell times in order to have the same buses run multiple routes in a three-tiered system.

Our school is on the last tier and our afternoon bus is chronically late. It doesn't arrive at our school until 4 p.m., which means kids are waiting outside the building for close to half an hour every day. (Not sure where they will wait when the winter weather hits.)

This leads me to wonder if it is physically and logistically possible to have one bus run three routes on time. Or will there always be a domino effect whenever the first or second tier routes are late, which will always make the third tier kids late.

When I called the general transportation number to ask why my kid's bus was consistently late, I was told, quite succinctly, "We don't have enough buses!"

(My e-mails to head of transportation, Tom Bishop, have gone unanswered.)

How's the new bus schedule working out for everyone else?

What was promised:


"With more efficient routing, buses are less likely to encounter the traffic delays that occur on longer routes, so families will find departure and arrival times to be more reliable," said Tom Bishop, the district's transportation manager. "In addition, the more streamlined routes will also benefit the environment by taking up to 80 buses off the roads and reducing the district's carbon footprint."

From: http://www.king5.com/news/cities/seattle/First-day-of-class-for-Seattle-Public-Schools-129370848.html

The district said by streamlining routes, buses should run more efficiently with rides taking 25 minutes or less.


Brian Rosenthal said...

Suep (and others) - I'm actually working on a story for The Times on that very topic - how the new transportation plan is working out.

I'm looking to talk to parents about their experiences. If you want to share your story, please contact me at brosenthal@seattletimes.com or (206) 464-3195.

Thanks a lot,
Brian M. Rosenthal
Education reporter, The Seattle Times

Anonymous said...

You may be describing our school, or we just have the same problem as you. My kids take the bus to school but I pick them up after because of the big delay. Also makes meeting the bus a major problem....no idea when it will show up.

Meanwhile, busses zoom by with 3 kids on them. Even the short busses are mostly empty on routes around here. Seems like they could easily use a minivan on some routes, and save money and time.

SPS mom

TraceyS said...

I have a question about Fall MAP testing for non-K students new to SPS. Are these tests being required by the district, or is this just a principal-driven thing?

The reason I am asking is that my daughter was pulled out of recess to take the MAP with no advance warning to her, her teacher, or us last week, and she ended up crying a lot during the test (it was also her birthday, poor thing). She was also scheduled for another no-notice test yesterday, but we found out about it during her morning dropoff, and opted her out when she began crying again.

Though I don't in theory have a problem with MAP testing, a little prior notice would have gone a long way, and the test results are obviously going to be invalid if you have a sobbing child taking it.

On a related note - since she does not have Winter 2011 MAP scores, what will be used for her testing for Advanced Learning placement? One of my concerns is that the faulty Fall MAP scores might be used, and clearly they are not going to be an accurate assessment of her.

Though I have a call into the district about the policy on this, I thought I would ask the blogosphere about others' experiences as well.

Anonymous said...

Ballard HS now has yellow bus service from Magnolia to BHS in the mornings only. Lots of very happy students. Bus is full by the time it leaves Magnolia.
Before the bus, students left standing on 15th Ave; there are just too many BHS students in Magnolia for the Metro to handle in the morning.

I give SPS a lot of credit for fixing the problem within three weeks of the school year!

HS Parent

dj said...

SueP, my kids' busses (they only take them home from school) are pretty consistently about 8-10 minutes late (not so consistent that for my kindergarten student, you could show up late at the bus stop, however). I think one of them is on the second shift and the other is on the third shift of busses. I don't think that the lateness is intolerable, but my older kid's bus was generally more on time last year, and since it was dropping her in front of our house, the late times affected me less (now, I have to drag two toddlers to a bus stop). I don't think it is intolerable at all (at least, not now when the weather is relatively temperate), but it is worse than last year.

Lori said...

Bus 771 from Lincoln is 15 minutes late every afternoon, consistently, since the first day of school. I've called and inquired whether they can just officially change the time or whether they expect it to be more timely at some point this year. No answer. They just log the report that it's late.

So I was talking to some families at the community stop yesterday and several of us decided that we should just call to file a late bus report every day from here on out until the resolve it. As suep says, the problem is that the bus does not arrive at Lincoln when it is supposed to.

15 minutes does not sound like a big deal, except there are actually ramifications. Kids who are signed up for afterschool activities at Bryant are missing class time; bus is supposed to arrive at 4PM, when the classes start, but the 415PM arrival makes them late. Parents signed up in good faith that the bus would eventually be on time.

Also, parents with siblings at the school are in a difficult position. Siblings get out at 3PM; the Lowell kids are supposed to arrive at 4PM. Not quite enough time to walk your younger kids home because you have to turn around and walk back pretty soon. So some families are hanging out playing at Bryant for at least an hour every afternoon. They would like the bus to be on time because they are already spending a huge chunk of time each and every day dealing with getting kids to and from two different locations. There's an "opportunity cost" to having families just milling around and waiting so long each day; that's time that could be spend on homework, preparing dinner, whatever. Instead, it's just sucked up with waiting. And, it just feels like the district is not respectful of parents' time when they make little effort to improve bus timeliness.

Lastly, our bus is really, really crowded this year. There are 12 rows of seats, and 71 kids are assigned to the route. That's 3 kids/seat, each and every row. I don't think Transportation thought much about the effect that assigning 20+ kids per community stop would have on logistics. Kids are crowding and pushing to be the first on the bus to get a seat with their friends, and when 32 are assigned to a stop, it's chaotic. And it's been overwhelming for several kids that I know. Imagine being a 1st grader going to a new school, riding a bus for the first time, and having to *fight* your way on every day. Some families are opting out of the chaos and using other, less crowded stops. But overall, the ride is less enjoyable this year than last. My child liked the bus last year, but this year, it's just stressful for her. Too crowded, too hard to find a friend to sit with, too noisy.

Sure, mostly minor stuff, but it's worthwhile to consider the "quality of life" tradeoffs that were made in this new bus process.

AnneBonny said...

TraceyS - from looking at the Advanced Learning page on the Seattle Schools site, it appears that they administer achievement testing for non-SPS students that pass the CogAT. For SPS they seem to be using Spring MAP as both a gateway to CogAT and have eliminated the achievement testing, which I think is new.

I would call the Advanced Learning office to clarify that your child won't be excluded from CogAT.

Take all of this with a grain of salt, I'm not an expert on the workings of the Advanced Learning Office by any means.

Lori said...

I should add, to the district's credit, they did try to alleviate some of the stress at the Bryant stop by altering the route and re-assigning a number of families to a new community stop near Eckstein.

Unfortunately, that stop is still 1/2 a mile for us to walk to, and the route is so circuitous that it would add 10 additional minutes to our child's ride, each direction. And, the afternoon drop off location is not nearly as safe for a young child as other community stops are, so it's not a very attractive option. I wonder if anyone is actually using it.

But at least they made an effort to resolve concerns/complaints that they were getting.

MAPsucks said...

Tracey S.

If you can believe it, the same thing happened to us AFTER I had opted my student out this fall. I about had a stroke! No notice, nothing. Pulled her out of science to take a math MAP. Why? They placed her in a math pathway based on her MSP scores, anyway. Her teacher would have no clue what questions she missed on a math MAP, since they're not allowed to see it. WTH was the point?

Purely for teacher evals and school performance measures, I'm sure. Bogus.

dan dempsey said...

Speak of Bogus... it is completely apparent that what the Central Administration says and then the Board sells to the public far too often has nothing to do with reality.

Anonymous said...

I think Tracey's kid is a new SPS student, not a non-SPS student. Non SPS students (presumably home schoolers & private school attendees) had until yesterday, to submit a form to access the CogAT testing, at a cost of $90.

I can't find the answer to Tracey's question in the flow chart of the forms -- since it assumes a spring 2011 MAP test for current SPS students:

I also note that they will allow current 8th graders to test into Ingraham's APP/IB program (but not to gain Garfield special access).



rugles said...

"It's the middle schools you have to watch out for"

I have heard comments like the above many times. Are the SPS middle schools that bad or is it just bad PR?

It seems like a contributing factor in the popularity of private schools.

Anonymous said...

Well, folks, here's another case of nepotism at work in SPS. Take a look at Clover Codd's short term (3 year) stint as a teacher, how she was then became a principal, and is now in a superintendent program.

Now, she's in charge of evaluating teachers.

Look at Alki's severe drop in writing scores (which were in an upward trajectory prior to Codd's hiring) this year, under Codd's tutelage.

Clover Codd is in cahoots with both Pat Sander (Codd's former principal and primary sponsor--Codd has publicly referred to Pat as "my second mom") and Cathy Thompson.

This is how this district (dys)functions...

--fed up some more

From: Enfield, Susan A
Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 12:26 PM
Subject: TIF Director appointed

Good afternoon,
Today I am pleased to announce that Alki Elementary Principal Clover Codd has been appointed Director of the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF ) for Seattle Public Schools.
Ms. Codd will transition to her new position on Oct. 17.
As TIF Director, Ms. Codd will oversee the TIF team that provides grant oversight and guidance. She will be responsible for the coordination of all elements of the grant, including the development and assessment of approaches to elevating teacher performance. Ms. Codd’s extensive classroom and school experience, her highly effective educational leadership skills, and her knowledge of and recent work with Lucy Calkins in the Readers and Writers Workshop project at Columbia Teachers College make her an excellent match for the role of TIF Director.
Alki Elementary remains in very good hands. I am pleased to appoint Chanda Oatis, currently Assistant Principal at Denny International Middle School, as Alki Elementary Interim Principal for the 2011-12 school year. Earlier this month, Ms. Oatis was awarded the Washington State Assistant Principal of the Year by the Association of Washington Middle Level Principals. In February, the Principals Association of Seattle Schools named her Middle School/K-8 Assistant Principal of the Year. Ms. Oatis is a phenomenal leader and I know that Alki Elementary School will continue to shine under her guidance.
Congratulations to both Clover and Chanda!


Susan Enfield, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent

TraceyS said...

I have a call into Advanced Learning now, about how current SPS students without last year MAP results are to be evaluated.

The person I talked to did not know, but has sent an email to her boss. She seemed somewhat unclear as to what our situation is, and kept telling em we did not need to re-test to keep her in Spectrum. I had to repeat several times that we were testing for APP, not Spectrum, since last years numbers were borderline. I do regret not appealing last year, to keep that pathway open.

Sorry to hear about your difficulties too, MapSucks. My daughter is quite distressed and worried about being pulled out of class now. I am hoping my meeting with the principal today will help make it clear that she is not to be pulled out of class or recess again like that. She is already under enough stress being new to the school as it is.

Anonymous said...

My child finally started to ride the bus home this week. Every day 20-25 minutes late and I think we are on the first tier. We will not put him on the morning bus because his 7:10am pickup is 90 minutes before school starts. He is in first grade. Soon that pickup will be in the dark. The new plan was supposed to guarantee shorter ride times and reasonable reliable pickups. Didn't work for us. When I called I was actually told that no students were scheduled to be picked up before 7:30am. um, no. Read your own documents. The bus has in fact been going past our house at 7:04 right about breakfast time.

suep. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said...

Re: MAP testing. That's disturbing to hear of schools pulling kids out of class for testing without warning. That happened at my kid's school too.

Even though the fall MAP test is optional, it appears some schools are choosing to administer it, especially to kids who didn't take it last year.

But it seems the schools are not announcing this decision to the parents. That seems wrong to me -- especially if parents want to opt their kids out of it.

Eric B said...

suep, If you're not getting a response from anyone in the Operations department, send a message to Pegi McEvoy. I've found her to be incredibly responsive.

Eric B said...

Fed up - We had generally positive experiences with Clover Codd as principal at Loyal Heights Elem, but that was a while ago. We haven't had experience with her since then.

I'm feeling like a District cheerleader today--it's a bit odd.

whittier07 said...

At our school, the principal left it up to staff at each grade level to decide whether or not to take the Fall MAP. All decided against it. We do have some students that are new to the district that are taking the test - this is a district requirement. Our principal announced this at the first PTA meeting.

At a meeting, Robert Vaughn stated that K-kids could apply to take the cognitive testing and then their Winter Map scores would be looked at. He said he is encouraging schools to test their K-kids during the first week of December so that the district has time to review the scores. Wonder what they'll do if a kiddo passes the cognitive testing but has low MAP scores?

Tracey S ... I would explain what took place to the school's principal and request a re-test.

MAPsucks said...

School policy, recently revised, DOES NOT REQUIRE MAP.

"However, there may be instances when a parent or guardian would prefer that a student not be assessed. When the assessment is a district directed assessment, the parent or guardian of the student must provide to the school principal a letter stating that the student is to be excused from the assessment. The school shall place the letter in the student’s permanent file. The purpose of retaining letters excusing a student from assessment is to ensure that the school’s data accurately reflect which assessments were taken by which students."

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tracy, my understanding is that the district requires all new to SPS students to take the fall MAP. However, it was a principal judgment whether the whole school will take it.

I received a list of those schools and I will post it this weekend.

Carol said...

Our daughter is at Lincoln, as well. We are very PLEASED with how the bus is going. Yes, it's consistently 15 minutes late in the afternoon, but the stated drop-off time seemed way too good to be true. I definitely think they should update the afternoon time to reflect reality so we can show up when it's been arriving instead of when it's supposed to arrive. I think that would help a lot.

Lori, I don't think you mean to be this way, but I sense a lot of negativity coming from you frequently. What about trying to solve problems instead of just posting them all the time? You're asking quite a lot of the district to plan for folks who have kids at two schools. If it's that bad, go back to your neighborhood school. I don't expect a public school district to make life perfect for my family since I CHOSE to send my kids to 2 different schools. This is public school afterall.

One thing the parents at our stop have done to help with the chronic lateness is to have one parent show up when the bus is supposed to arrive (just in case it does magically come on time). That allows all the other parents to arrive when it actually has been showing up without worrying that it will be on time.


suep. said...

Do we really need to psychoanalyze each other on this blog?

Jack Whelan said...

I think that our ambivalence about Susan Enfield is rooted in our trying to evaluate her performance in terms of her record: she’s done some good things, some not so good, add up the pluses and minuses and if there’s a positive balance, why not keep her? She has such a marvelous resume, after all. She’s so upbeat and likable, and we need the stability in that leadership position. Right?

But I would argue that the more important criteria for evaluating her, because it is more predictive of her future performance, is to understand clearly to which camp she belongs—the technocratic or humanistic camp. Had this been done for MGJ, I don’t think anybody would have been surprised by what she did and didn’t do, by what she cared about and didn’t. Individual policies don’t emerge from a vacuum; they flow from a basic set of values that shape an individual’s or group’s mindset.
I am convinced that Enfield is clearly in the technocratic camp, and I would argue that the board as presently composed is dominated by a technocratic ethos. If you understand how this works, you understand why things are so screwed up and why the board seems so impervious to suggestions from anyone who stands outside of this technocratic mindset or has the temerity to challenge its presuppositions. (DeBell and Patu in their different ways, IMO, are less embedded in this ethos than the others, but they are still deeply influenced by it defines the terms for all policy discussion at the Stanford Center.)

To call Enfield or the board members or Stritikus (as CM did last week) “technocrats” is not to say anything essential about them as human beings; it’s just to point out that their thinking is strongly influenced by a certain set of values and concerns. And it’s also to point out that they can change their thinking but are not likely to unless (or until) the policies that flow from those values are proved to be disastrous, or until someone can propose a robust alternative mindset that has greater promise for producing more realistic positive outcomes.

Educated liberals have a weak spot for technocratic solutions, and this is a part of what makes this a confusing, divisive issue in liberal Seattle. Liberals like rational solutions. They like evidence and logic to support policy decisions. They hate venality and incompetency and waste, and they want results. Technocratic solutions, for these reasons, are very attractive to well-educated, intelligent Seattleites, especially when contrasted with the fuzzy, quasi-hippie, messy, less controllable, more democratically anarchic solutions proposed by humanists.

For this reason, the money people--Gates, Broad, Walton, The Seattle Times, the mentality behind NCLB/RttT, LEV, Stand for Children, the Alliance for Education, and the neoliberal education reform agenda as a whole are solidly in the technocratic camp. People in that camp roll their eyes at proposals that promote humanistic fuzziness and lack of centralized control. They can’t stand the idea of putting all that money into something they cannot control, and for which measurable results are not really the central concern. It doesn’t matter that everything they try fails or how much money they waste or how much disruption they cause, because it’s just a question of time before they hit on something that will work.

Humanists just aren’t that concerned about “control.” They understand that the most important things that happen in schools, as in life, are not measurable, nor can they be engineered on a scalable level. They care about excellence, but they understand it cannot be forced; it has to be inspired.

TechyMom said...

We switched to our neighborhood school this year. There are about 10 kids at the community stop for short ride. It's kind of nice chatting with the other families. So far, the bus has been arriving at a consistent time. I'd say on-time, but families at this stop have 3 different times printed on their letters (varies by 14 minutes) and the actual consistent time of arrival is none of them. Same in the afternoon, it arrives at the same time every day, 15 minutes after the time on my letter.

The neighborhood/community thing has been fun for my daughter, the bus driver is really nice, and we're happy with the service. We had stopped using the busses last year due to discipline problems and taking 45 minutes for a 7 minute drive, so this is a big improvement for us.

Josh Hayes said...

I'll chime in with bus tales - my daughter's bus picks her up, on time, at 8 AM for a 9:10 start time. The bus takes an hour to get to school, by which time she's mildly woozy from the ride. I can drive her to school in about five minutes and give her an extra hour of sleep, so since I'm flexible enough to be able to do that, I'm driving her most mornings.

The afternoon bus departs school at 3:30 and she's off about 3:50-3:55, which is much better. Both buses run on time. Can't complain that an hour on a school bus makes her sick: it makes ME sick to spend an hour on those things.

Lori said...

Carol, I'm sorry that my posts offend you. I do find it curious, however, that you assume that I am not involved in problem-solving behind the scenes. Heck, I was part of the effort to add another community stop to our route to reduce the burden on our former neighborhood school! I just don't broadcast stuff like that here.

Ultimately, you and I want the exact same thing. If our bus cannot arrive at the stated time, then fix the problem or change the official time so families can plan accordingly.

I don't think it's being negative to ask the district to treat families with respect. I never asked them to make things perfect for anyone! I'm just trying to give some examples of what 15 minutes means to busy families in case anyone from Transportation is reading this thread.

Steve said...

I have to wonder if by cutting bus service, SPS has simply shifted the burden of transportation to parents. For those whose kids are spending a lot longer on the bus these days because of the reduced service, how many parents are simply driving their kids to school instead of putting their kids on these more "efficient" routes? If the buses are routinely late, the route doesn't make sense (too long to go a short distance), or I have to go to a neighborhood school for dropoff and pickup that's not convenient, I will likely drive if I have the ability.

I think of this burden shifting whenever the district talks about carbon emissions. Sure, they got 80 buses off the street, but the metric that matters is "bus miles driven," and I would argue the carbon expelled by all the parent cars that are now picking up the slack.

Anonymous said...

Jack W: Great, great post. I think you really hit the nail on the head. You said, on one thoughtful post, much of what I've ranted about for years on this blog. The undying, blind-faith in technology and "anything is quantifiable/controllable/recordable/etc." management methods is the Achilles heel of so many, and so much in the Ed Reform camp.

It is the same philosophy that drives people to snicker and lament spending on "social programs" while being just fine with paying for bombs to drop on other people, because "at least there's something to show for it." (Yes, a close relative actually said that once).

Many accept that education is a science, but that it is also an art, is completely lost on them.

And few in the PNW question the devotion and reliance on technology, not wanting, ideologically and philosophically, to bite the hand tht has fed, and enriched, so many. WSDWG

Jack Whelan said...

One last thought: I’d argue that every time you agree to talk about “closing the achievement gap” you are agreeing to frame the problem in technocratic terms. And if you accept that frame, it's hard to argue that technocratic solutions such as standardized testing, more teacher accountability, or a standardized core curricula are essential for “the” solution.

But the achievement gap can only be dealt with on a scalable level by addressing the cultural and economic social complexities that derive from structural poverty. That’s common sense technocrats don't want to accept because they know they cannot control the causes of poverty, and for technocrats it’s really all about control. So they focus on what they think they can control, such as making teachers more accountable or taking variety out of the curriculum. Whatever, but it’s not going to solve the achievement gap.

mirmac1 said...

Jack Whelan, you can psychoanalyze me anytime!

mirmac1 said...

Oh, BTW, my daughter now rides a taxi so that they could divert the bus for its third shift. Gee, do you think we'll ever hear whether the bus transportation "savings" is negated by payouts to Orange Cab co.? Think board members give a rat's pat**tie?

WV: It is ozologi(cal)

Patrick said...

My daughter has ridden the bus a couple of times. It's worked well, on-time pick up. She doesn't take it in the afternoon, though. But she likes being driven, and driving I take here there a little early so we can run around before I go to work, so most of the time I'll keep doing that.

Anonymous said...

OUr bus experience is terrible. Our afternoon bus is consistently 20-30 minutes late. Since school doesn't end until 3:40, it means we don't get home until 5pm if my son rides the bus. Completely unacceptable. Almost everyone at our stop drives their kid home from school so they get home an hour earlier. There has been no response to multiple emails from multiple parents, much less change/improvement from Tom Bishop or the transportation department. It is as if they completely don't care at all. So, yes, the burden is being passed to the parents.
TM Mom

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

Our Eckstein bus is reliably on time, every day, and has been since day 1. Of course when buses are late at Eckstein the administration gives the transportation dept. an ear full. They are relentless, and don't stop until the issue is solved. We had the same experience at Bryant. Admin was not about to accept chronically late buses and leaned heavily on transportation until they dealt with the situation.

On the contrary, when my other kid was at Salmon Bay (years ago before the new transportation plan) the buses were routinely late -sometimes over an hour. When I spoke to the office, and eventually to the principal all I got was so sorry, it's out of our hands, nothing we can do, you can call transportation if you'd like. They didn't want to get involved at all, and didn't seem to care at all.

If your kid has late buses, I'd talk to your schools admin and find out if they are aware of the situation, advocating for their students, and leaning on the transportation dept. That might help.


Anonymous said...

"Oh, BTW, my daughter now rides a taxi so that they could divert the bus for its third shift."

Hmh? When are they providing taxis? I've noticed taxis on in the residential neighborhoods around these times, and wondered how they were being used. So, there are circumstances in which the school provides taxis? If so, is it a regular driver? Or different drivers every time?

I've actually considered using taxis to deal with some of my kids' transportation issues (which are multitude, and not alleviated by any school provided transportation) but worried about the issues of having children riding by themselves in taxis. How does the SPS circumvent the concerns one might have?


Anonymous said...

Our daughter's bus to and from Hamilton has been on-time both to and from school. Since she's in middle school, I assume she's on the first shift of bus runs so I'm sure that helps. Jane

Anonymous said...

Jack W:

After I posted my last comment, I was literally walking through my kitchen and said to myself, "that's why they spend so much time and energy talking about the achievement gap..." (framing).

Weird, huh? I guess great minds think alike!

Today I watched the meeting at Madison Middle School about the capacity crunch in West Seattle (via YouTube), and if that wasn't sluggishly boring enough, I then received an e-mail about an upcoming community engagement event at Garfield. While they are trying so hard to "engage the community" it apparently doesn't register that there would be little to no need for these sales conventions and information fairs if they simply did a better job of supporting teachers and families at each school. Instead of showing us the latest "best practices" (according to whom, btw?), they'd do better to respond to actual, current needs.

But it all has to be "macro" so it can be commoditized and taken "to scale." Because, that's where the real money is.

Anonymous said...

Regarding taxis, Special Ed has been using them in lieu of busses since the beginning of last year for some reason. I work at a central area school and all of our special ed kids who get door to door service in South Seattle get taxis. That is about 10 kids. Some are in the same taxi, some are alone. As a teacher, it makes me sick to my stomach to put these kids on a taxi every day with new and random drivers. I cannot figure out how the district is getting away with it. many of the kids who ride in the taxis are NON VERBAL. I would NEVER EVER put my own child into a random cab in Seattle and hope she gets home okay. How is this okay? I wish the SpEd parents would rally together and protest. I have tried as a teacher but I feel like no one listens or cares. Instead, my families are driving their kids back and forth or sticking them on big, gen ed busses, which is also not a great idea for all of them. And did you know that every single taxi ride costs the district $50. Whether or not there is a kid in the taxi. So if the kid goes home with a friend or parent picks up but they forget to cancel the taxi, it still costs $50. It is crazy.

Frustrated SpEd teacher

Long Bus Ride said...

My 1st grader has a scheduled bus ride-time of about 50 minutes (not including lateness).

I have chosen to just drive my 6-year-old child each day so that she doesn't have an 8 1/2 hour long day (which she would if she were riding the bus). I've emailed Transportation and got no response.

Other families in my neighborhood at the same school are doing the same thing: just driving instead. I, and the parents I know, consider an 8 1/2 hour day for a young child way too long (pick-up from the bus stop at 7:04 am for one of my child's 1st grade classmates!)

The district is not providing the transportation they've committed to (ride-time standard of 25 minutes for elementary and k-8 kids), and they're not doing anything to solve it.

dan dempsey said...

Every time the District speaks about using some program or purchase to close the achievement gap ... it is code for "We have no justification at all for this action."

The TfA action was the most bizarre demonstration of this ever.

Claim that TfA is a strategy to close the achievement gaps ... yet refuse to say when the WAC requirement for a careful review of all other options for closing the achievement gaps occurred.

Here is my letter to Dorn and Kinnunen.

Anonymous said...

Jack W wrote:
"But the achievement gap can only be dealt with on a scalable level by addressing the cultural and economic social complexities that derive from structural poverty. That’s common sense technocrats don't want to accept because they know they cannot control the causes of poverty, and for technocrats it’s really all about control."

Not entirely so....
Auburn certainly made a significant impact on student learning without dealing much with social complexities... they used better instructional materials and strategies ... NOTE big time tech is not required.

-- Dan Dempsey

Oh yeah, I'm still here. said...

The best I can say about Ms. Codd is that when she is forced to lie (under oath) to protect the established order (MGJ), at least she bursts out crying (Yeah, you know who I am Clover) and has an emotional episode.

Thats better than the rest of MGJ/Don Kennedy crew.

Clover, let me repeat what you and I left unstated that day (not so long ago): Shame on you.

You and I both know, you feel it.

Thanks for the "tell".or

mirmac1 said...

Still here...

Mind shedding some light on that cryptic post?! My mouth still hangin' open...

seattle citizen said...

MOst cabbies I've met are infe people. But the district has to practice due dilegence, particularly with more vulnerable students (scratch that, with ALL students):
This happened last winter:
Cab driver under investigation for trying to pimp Seattle student
"Two Yellow Cab drivers are accused of inappropriate contact with students the district contracted to have transported to and from school."

Anonymous said...

The bus for my 7th grader to TOPS has been great in the morning (he doesn't ride it in the afternoon). He has a 10 block walk and the bus is rarely late. There are about 7 kids there and I think it's on the first tier. It takes about half the time it has in previous years.
We're very happy with the switch.


Kathy said...

I find it interesting that CASE has endorsed incumbents without interviewing challengers.


Kathy said...

Disregard previous statement. I need to confirm whether written interviews were obtained from all challengers.

TraceyS said...

I met with the principal today, and we agreed that the MAP test results would not have been useful for my daughter, since she was so obviously upset. We also agreed that opting her out of any further MAP testing this fall was the right thing, since her teacher was already doing reading assessments, and her math progress seems on par with the other kids. So, no more pullouts for her for testing. I am still unsure as to how we will handle winter and spring MAP testing, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I also had a chance to talk with someone from the MAP assessment group. She stated the fall MAP tests were "required" for new students, to to get baseline data. When I explained our situation, she fully agreed that opting out made sense, and was a valid choice. So, "required" seems to actually mean "automatically given, but you can choose to opt out if you want."

I still have an outstanding call into the Advanced Learning department about how testing for AL will proceed for her, since she is a current SPS student, but has no 2011 MAP data. No answer yet. The MAP person I talked to seemed to think she would take the same tests as the non-SPS students (first a CoGAT, then reading and math assessments), but I do not have an official statement from AL yet. Nor do we have test dates. I'll call again on Monday, as the AL office was pretty swamped today.

I strongly suggest any other parent in our situation may want to follow up pretty aggressively as well. I do not get the impression that the AL office has a clear plan for current SPS students without 2011 MAP data, and some may fall through the cracks without a lot of followup.

Thanks for all the help on this, to SSS commenters, as well as to my other parent-friends who've been in SPS for a while. As someone new to the public schools here, it has been quite the adventure, to say the least.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kathy, that needs it's own thread so I'll put one up.

Rugles, you asked about middle school. I don't think it's necessarily OUR middle schools, I think it is THE middle school experience.

That age is so much about transition - from K-5, growth (physical and mental), and peer pressure. And, we want them to be good students. I think it is a challenge to create a school community that is cohesive and works with all those variables.

Add to it that the amount of parental involvement and presence in the school drops hugely and you have an even more different atmosphere. Parents tend to give their all in K-5 and burn out. We still need you.

Remember how in elementary they expected the kids to have a clear table at lunch before they leave for recess? That stops in middle school and suddenly you see a lot of behaviors that would never be tolerated in elementary school. But we think it's normal (and necessary) so a lot more happens that probably shouldn't.

I personally believe that many of our middle schools are too large. The argument is that you can provide more types of classes with more students (true) but I think it is easier for more kids to fly under the radar.

It is a key time to be honing those research and study skills. It is a key time to get those students thinking about college - in broad terms - but thinking about it. This is the time to intervene and not waiting until some kid is failing at the end of freshman or sophomore year.

That's my two cents.

suep. said...

Hi Lori and others,

Lincoln is our school too. I suspect that because it is the last round (tier 3), it is suffering from delays earlier in the route.

What concerns me most is making elementary school kids wait outside a school building for close to half an hour at the end of each day. Plus, someone has to supervise them. Whose time is that and who is paying for it?

While I appreciate the district's intent of consolidating bus routes, saving money and the environment, it seems that it's not physically possible for these buses to do three routes on time, so I'm concluding the district needs to put a few more buses back into the system.

I agree with Steve that it seems that at least some of the district's "savings" from the bus cutbacks are coming out of parents'(and kids') time and pockets. And if many parents are driving their kids to or from school because of an unacceptable bus schedule, that's not really reducing the the 'carbon footprint' either (another reason given by the district for the cutbacks).

As for taxis for Special Ed kids, that seems just plain negligent. There's got to be a better way to get these kids safely home.

Jan said...

Jack Whelan: thanks for your post. I have not thought of it so clearly nor (in my fuzziness) have I been as charitable towards the technocrats -- but it sheds interesting light on why they never seem to "get" it -- from a humanist viewpoint.

dan dempsey said...


I see it as all part of No Vendor Left Behind.

We need to re-direct money from teaching into making technology purchases to raise those scores.

-- Dan

Still here said...

Sorry mirmac1,

I really can't. There are about 5 of us around that witnessed Clover's performance and my message was simply a descriptive "best I can say" comment.

However, in an attempt to send a message to her that "you can't fool ALL the people, ALL the time, its important (to us) that she know we remember.

We shall never forget Clover. Never.

Lennon said "One thing you can't hide, is when you're crippled inside". That describes Ms. Codd and she knows it and so should all who deal with her while she continues to wear the mask she does.

mirmac1 said...

Grrrrreat. Now she's pulling >$110K, creating a Teacher Incentive Fund program she has no clue about. Building career ladders for more middle managers. Encouraging test-prep instructors to up those scores. Spending Arne Duncan's latest boondoggle.

This must be one of those four pillars Enfield is putting in place; proven strategies to create techno-crats while burning up the dough.

If you feel Codd has crossed ethical boundaries, please contact Wayne Barnett. You can file anonymously.

Still here said...

Thanks mirmac1

Contacting Wayne would have no effect. Trust me.

Two things:

"Reason enslaves all those who pursue her"


"The heart has reasons that reason can never know".

She knows and several of us know. That will have to be it for now.

Others will find out for themselves.

dan dempsey said...

Backing up an earlier claim I made that Colleges of Education are cash cows for universities:

In today's news....

Duquesne University
Pittsburgh, Penn.
Tuition*: $26,400

Discount: Starting in the 2012-13 academic year, the university will offer a 50% discount on tuition and fees to freshmen who enroll in its School of Education. The discount will be in place for all four years the students are in the program. Education majors will pay about $14,000 less next year than students in other majors.

So just rounding off ....
The ed school majors will now be paying $50,000 in tuition over four years ... instead of the $100,000 they would have been paying.

Anonymous said...

Clover Codd has publicly stated that she does not believe that MAP was ever intended for use in teacher evaluations and believes that it should never be used for teacher evaluations.

Let's see how this becomes part of her job as head of TIF and whether or not she has a change of heart.

==another one who has "found out" about Ms. Codd the hard way

dan dempsey said...

Jack W...

I really like your technocrat analysis .... but while I agree with the overall message... consider this "Liberals like rational solutions. They like evidence and logic to support policy decisions."

Yet the Directors refuse to make evidence based decisions through the consideration of all the evidence when it comes to voting on proposals. About as far as most usually get is "Superintendent recommends".

zella917 said...

From my own experience I'd say don't waste your time trying to get the district to test your child for advanced learning if they don't score well on the MAP. I applied for advanced learning testing for my kindergartner last year (her older sister is in APP), but since she didn't score over 85% on the MAP in her first weeks of kindergarten the district would not test her. I sent e-mails to Robert Vaughan, Sherry Carr, etc. but it didn't make any difference. Her scores later in the year varied widely, above the cut-off for math in the winter but not reading, above for reading the spring but then down for math. I still don't think it's a valid gatekeeper for further advanced learning testing, but since she's happy in her neighborhood school, I've giving up on it for now.

dan dempsey said...

Zella917 said:

"I still don't think it's a valid gatekeeper for further advanced learning testing,"

So is the MAP testing for kindergarten students good for anything other than generating revenue for NWEA?

Once again the District has been "Techno Duped". ... and as usual can not admit a mistake.

Jack Whelan said...

For what it's worth, a few more thoughts about what characterizes a humanistic education. First, it is interested not just in producing basic skills, but in a certain soul-craft, about growing kids into mature, responsible, engaged citizens capable of taking on the freedom and obligations of life in a democratic society. It recognizes that caring teachers and caring parents are essential for developing students who care about learning. It seeks to promote a culture where the love of learning is the most important thing, not how well you score on a test.

A humanistic education is committed to excellence and accountability for both its students, teachers and staffs. It is looking continuously to improve, to get better, to deliver higher levels of quality and to challenge students to achieve higher levels of excellence. But it looks for human, collaborative ways to accomplish this, not technocratic ones. Standardized tests are fine as a limited tool to give stakeholders general information, but obscene sums of money should not be paid for them, nor should they be used to determine pass/fail for students or compensation or firing decisions for faculty.

A humanistic education doesn’t just pay lip service to the idea of community and community engagement, but does everything it can to develop a rich community of learning at each school. Humanists understand that every school community is different, and that the people in each are the best judges about developing solutions for the particular problems they face. They understand the importance of good management and some level of centralized coordination and decision-making, but also understand that the people at the Stanford Center are there to serve communities at the local level, not the other way around.

A humanistic education is what students get at expensive local private schools. But while parents with means can buy a better teacher/student ratio at private schools, there is no reason that public schools cannot otherwise deliver what private schools do. And as with the different approaches taken by different private schools depending on the students they serve, so can public schools adapt to the needs of their students. Uniformity of curricula meets bureaucratic needs, not students’ needs.

Most students get lot of what I’m describing in Seattle Public Schools, but they get it despite Stanford Center policy. They get it because they have good teachers. We need to make it easier for good teachers to keep doing what they do, but that’s not the direction SPS is taking. Stanford Center bureaucrats, although they pay lip service to humanistic ideals, are pushing policies that are turning our schools into technocratic factories. I suppose we should be grateful that their venality and incompetence has prevented them from making more progress than they have. But this is why I oppose the permanent hire of Susan Enfield. My problem with her is precisely that she is so charming and competent and that she will be all too effective in implementing that technocratic agenda.

Anonymous said...

Kay Blum Smith : no show for the advertised Community Meeting this morning at Douglass Truth Library. Thanks, Kay! My time is important too.

Constitutent, Central District.

Anonymous said...

Steve writes I have to wonder if by cutting bus service, SPS has simply shifted the burden of transportation to parents.

You have to wonder? Have you opened a newspaper in the last year? They cut the bus to save money, that's it. Plain and simple. Yes, the burden and costs have been shifted. Yes, inconvenient but preferable to enlarging classes.

Late buses aren't a feature of the new system. They always had them. My kids' bus one year was late ALL the time, as much as a half hour.

As to taxi's, these are for special education. Imagine the cost of that! And the liability. You've got non-verbal kids with a different driver every day. Sometimes the driver doesn't even know where to take the kids. And the kids can't tell them.

But no spedTeacher, not every student with an IEP has "door-to-door" service. Resource students, for example, do not typically have "door-to-door". If a student DOES have "door-to-door" checked on his IEP, then they get a short bus if there's a route OR a taxi if there is no taxi. Isn't it interesting that they say they're serving special ed students locally, but then we see a million taxi's?

-another parent

dan dempsey said...

Jack W.

Standardized tests are fine as a limited tool to give stakeholders general information, but obscene sums of money should not be paid for them, "

Get ready for WA State's Common Core State Standards Initiative adoption, where most of the spending can be classified as "obscene sums" of money for testing.

dan dempsey said...

Jack W.

"It recognizes that caring teachers and caring parents are essential for developing students who care about learning. It seeks to promote a culture where the love of learning is the most important thing, not how well you score on a test."

It is especially important to instill that love of learning in students scoring in the lower stanines on the standardized tests.

Additional time is what is needed for many kids to acquire mastery of particular content and skills.

This may extend over a period of years perhaps decades for many dyslexic kids, when it comes to spelling etc.

When kids see that the Test Scores are what is important... and they do not score well... it is time for many to give up.

Having had 3 dyslexic sons at the edge of the Modern System... A system which has been with us for quite a time ... it is easy to see this insanity increasing.

Learning is what is important not test scores. We are definitely living in the Techno Dupe age of education.

Next Board meeting is for action on MAP testing .... of course the subscription payment was due some time ago and the district is already MAP testing this year... be sure and signup to give some valuable but totally Board meaningless testimony. Testimony is given to inform the public ... 99% of Board decisions are pre-made with "The Superintendent recommends".

WOW do we need a new Superintendent.

Anonymous said...

"From my own experience I'd say don't waste your time trying to get the district to test your child for advanced learning if they don't score well on the MAP."

The Advanced Learning Dept does not really know what it is doing with MAP. It is a funny time to be using it as a screening tool. Sure, it might pick up a few students who might have gone unnoticed, but how does it help ELL and SPED students be recognized and supported? It is a very lazy way out for Advanced Learning.


dan dempsey said...

Jack W. =>

"My problem with her, Susan Enfield, is precisely that she is so charming and competent and that she will be all too effective in implementing that technocratic agenda."

Given that the Board frequently ignores policies and laws...
Given that the Board refuses to intelligently apply the relevant data ...

It is "Technocratic Agenda" full speed ahead..... because the Superintendent recommends it.

{{DeBell stated on 10-5-2011 that he has concerns about the efficacy of MAP testing .... like so what?}}

dan dempsey said...

About MAP tesing it was said=>
"It is a very lazy way out for Advanced Learning."

It seems to be a very lazy way out of a lot of things... like effective interventions for struggling students to name one.

NWEA/ MAP is inappropriate for most of the things for which the district is attempting to use it.

Anonymous said...

suep said: Our school is on the last tier and our afternoon bus is chronically late. It doesn't arrive at our school until 4 p.m., which means kids are waiting outside the building for close to half an hour every day. (Not sure where they will wait when the winter weather hits.)

and Lori said: Bus 771 from Lincoln is 15 minutes late every afternoon, consistently, since the first day of school. I've called and inquired whether they can just officially change the time or whether they expect it to be more timely at some point this year. No answer. They just log the report that it's late.

Sounds like the same bus/situation.

Officially changing the time won't fix the fact that the bus doesn't leave school until after 4pm. That's unacceptable, and I assume it's because the previous route(s) don't allow it to arrive at Lincoln on time.

Guess what Transportation? This was an ambitious project, and works many places, but some routes are just not going to work. There are probably a handful of routes around the city that need an extra bus, beyond what was planned for. And after a full month of school behind us, winter approaching, this needs to get fixed.

I agree with the post by the Eckstein parent: Of course when buses are late at Eckstein the administration gives the transportation dept. an ear full. They are relentless, and don't stop until the issue is solved.

It's time for the Lowell staff to dig in and help get this fixed. It's bad enough for elementary kids to not get out of school until 3:30, but it's unacceptable to not get home until close to 5pm.

- another one rides the bus

dan dempsey said...

Jack Whelan...

I think rather than the "technology" and technocrats.... It would be more accurate to refer to Technocracy.

Yup I got a bit confused with Technology instead of Technocracy.

Thanks for inspiring thinking.

Anonymous said...

enfield says:
Ms. Codd’s ... knowledge of and recent work with Lucy Calkins in the Readers and Writers Workshop project at Columbia Teachers College make her an excellent match for the role of TIF Director."

As if that were a *good* thing.


Here as well said...

eah, and its her lack of an inner moral compass that makes her a good fit downtown.

Charlie Mas said...

I went - or, rather, tried to go to Director Smith-Blum's community meeting today at Douglass-Truth Library. There was no meeting.

Kay is in Washington, D.C., and the meeting room was never reserved by her. The District just mis-reported the day and time of the meeting.

I met two other people who were there for the non-meeting, an 8th grader from Washington and the Seattle Times education beat reporter, Brian Rosenthal. All three of us then went to West Seattle for Steve Sundquist's community meeting.

We were the only three there.

It was a great opportunity. I was able to tell Steve that the Board had been ambiguous about whether or not they have a duty to enforce policy. He said that he absolutely believed that they did have that duty. He seemed puzzled when I told him that they had delegated it to the superintendent in the newly adopted Series 1000 policies. He also didn't notice that the new Series 1000 policies no longer included the plan of introducing motions at one meeting and voting on them at the subsequent meeting. I asked if the repeal of that policy was intentional. It wasn't.

I said that the Board should have been told that the program placement policy wouldn't be followed and that the Board should have suspended the policy instead of just allowing it to be violated. I said that it wasn't too late and he could bring it to an Executive Committee meeting for inclusion on the Board agenda.

He didn't remember that Director Martin-Morris pushed the instructional materials waiver to the end of the year. That shot past him. At the Board retreat they agreed to complete the whole thing by the end of the school year, not just get it started then.

The 8th grader from Washington asked a lot of very good questions that put Mr. Sundquist in some discomfort. She asked why some schools are built like palaces while others have leaking roofs. She wanted to know who approved the expensive fixtures and if it was known that the additional costs of those fixtures meant that other schools remained in disrepair. She asked about cost overruns. She asked a lot of questions that began "Wouldn't it make sense to..." and then describe a path the District hadn't followed but should have. It was fun.

Anonymous said...

My student is not attending an SPS school this year, but was enlisted last year. I would like to see his MSP and spring MAP scores. Does anyone know who I contact to get the results?

SeattleSped said...

"They cut the bus to save money, that's it. Plain and simple. Yes, the burden and costs have been shifted. Yes, inconvenient but preferable to enlarging classes."

Not inconvenient. Transpo $$ cannot got towards reducing class size.

"Isn't it interesting that they say they're serving special ed students locally, but then we see a million taxi's?"

Not so interesting to those of us with kids who can't be served in resource room (which is geared for reading, math, and other "high-incidence" learning disabilities.) That whole ICS "bring the services to the child" thing is a load of horse sh*t.

Anonymous said...

As I thought might happen, an "independent" political action committee (PAC) has jumped into the school board race. Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE) has endorsed all the incumbents and its PAC has given $1000 to Peter Maier. A quick review of Political Disclosure Commission (PDC) records shows that the CASE PAC is funded by Comcast, Puget Sound Energy, the Seattle Mariners, Bank of America, a couple builders associations, and a long list of corporations.

It is pleasing to know that Sharon Peaslee has become a big enough threat to wealthy elites that they continue to pour money into Maier's campaign. I look forward to the change of direction that Sharon Peaslee will bring if and when she is elected.


someone said...

In their defense - the line staff of transportation shares yourr concerns about the new system comletely. They care deeply and have been working their butts off to solve the type of issues raised here. The problem is at a higher level - with a manager unwilling to listen to input and unwilling to respond. Please don't blame the line staff. Tom is the problemn not them.

Lori said...

I want to give a shout-out to someone (936AM post) and the other line folks in Transportation. I've had good experiences on the phone this year, and a week or so ago, I spoke to someone who was very helpful who did seem to "get" some of the concerns that parents had, even if there wasn't much he could do to fix the situation in the short-term. I did in fact get the sense that the staff shares some of the families' concerns.

So, thanks, transportation staff, for taking all our calls and listening. That has got to be a particularly challenging job at the start of each school year!

Melissa Westbrook said...

"He also didn't notice that the new Series 1000 policies no longer included the plan of introducing motions at one meeting and voting on them at the subsequent meeting."

I totally missed this, Charlie. That's crazy talk. How did the Board miss this?

DWE, I'm looking into the CASE endorsement because it seems they may not have even talked to any challenger. An odd thing to endorse a candidate without even talking to the challengers (but Conlin and Burgess did it as well and Conlin has contributed to all the incumbents campaigns).

Anonymous said...

"DWE, I'm looking into the CASE endorsement because it seems they may not have even talked to any challenger. An odd thing to endorse a candidate without even talking to the challengers. . . ."

CASE dispensed with the pretense of interviewing the challengers unlike, say, The Seattle Times.

As I've said elsewhere, Seattle's school board race is a local election of national importance. It would be significant, indeed, if the wealthy elite driving a neo-education reform agenda were to have their candidates lose an election in Seattle. We've yet to see independent expenditures, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them if the challengers are perceived as a big enough threat.


seattle citizen said...

In today's New York Times, an article about Inflating the Software Report Card, how educational software companies praise their own products as successful whilst ignoring research to the contrary. This is a growing business, and should be viewed cautiously.

Another NYT article is about how G.O.P. Candidates Take an Anti-Federal Stance [against Education Department]

Lastly, the NYT reports that Dream Act Becomes Law in California

Anonymous said...

DWE is right on with his comment that the coming SPS Board election is of monumental importance.

In most elections the choice is between usually two candidates each of which is beholden to big $$$ donors.

In the 2007 Board elections only one candidate in each of 4 races received the big money ... each won ... and look at the four years of results "the $500,000 four" produced.

The "Occupy Protests" may be an indication that lots of folks wish to arrest the nation's 50 year slide into an Oligarchy.

Ballots will be mailed on October 19.

The question is ....
Will sleepy Seattle voters reelect the agents of the oligarchs or will enough wake up to replace them with Directors that will obey laws because they are not trying to slam a predetermined agenda on us all?

-- Dan Dempsey

seattle citizen said...

Dan, you might take a look at the software over-hype article I linked to the post before yours. The main focus is on math ed software

dan dempsey said...

My buddy Dave says:

the Washington State Academy of Sciences held their Fourth Annual Meeting on September 22, 2011. The title was,

Rising Above the Gathering Storm:
STEM Education in Washington is a success!



Creating special schools for a subset of well motivated students is good for them. It has little real benefit to the kids at the bottom or the majority in the middle. They are addressing an easy problem, directing money at well motivated, high achieving students and then they go home. How hard is that?

Right another Success!!!

Don't Leap to calling Cleveland STEM a success just yet...... The CHS student body has a lot of kids that may not be in the subset of "well motivated, high achieving students."

dan dempsey said...


About the Software... in the NY Times article:

“The advertising from the companies is tremendous oversell compared to what they can actually demonstrate,”

Followed by the company man's response of .... "districts do not implement the software properly with correct teacher training".

.... Hey that is the Everyday Math line "fidelity of implementation" and Professional Development needed... Do these con men use that same line for all their failures?

The High School Math Discovering series in the SPS ==>

$800,000 for books with a decision to not buy books below algebra ( a best practice?)
$400,000 for Professional Development

Produced a Low-income student pass rate, for students in grade 9 that took algebra class in 2010-2011, on the Algebra End of Course Assessment of 38% .... with more than one in three students ... at level 1 = Algebra clueless.

So what did Seattle fail to buy? What did they fail to do? {I mean other than the District making an intelligent selection and adoption approval decision ... remember CAO Enfield and now interim Superintendent Enfield finds math to be improving}

Clear we are watching CYA mode to the max.

Inside as well said...

Say folks:

Hate to burst any "bubbles" that may still survive here but the suggestion made about Clover last week: "please contact Wayne Barnett. You can file anonymously" is really funny.

With no dis-respect to Wayne and his group, do the readers here realize who is in charge as gatekeeper for Wayne's efforts (and presumably the anonymouse part) at the District?

The answer is: Ron English...........

Nuff' said?

So we know the street address of the "chicken house", anybody want to name the fox?

Wayne's group has been sent on so many merry goose chases thus far that it will be a cold day in a really hot place before they actually get to look at anything downtown.

English will make sure of that. Mark my words.

Come to think of it, there hasn't been any news of any investigations of ANYTHING since he was appointed "Interim" General Counsel.

Mission accomplished huh Ron?

J said...

I know this thread has moved on by now, but I wanted to make one more point. A lot of the confusions lies in the way district staff and sitting directors use humanistic language despite their fundamental technocratic approach toward solving problems. They would insist, for instance, that they care about every child in the district as much as any humanist does, and, of course, we must take them at their word.

But what they don't see is that in their obsession to close the achievement gap as measured by some cookie cutter standard, they are creating a system where the kids serve the system, rather than the system serving the kid. Whatever lip service is paid to other ideas, Teachers are in fact valued only insofar as they produce these narrowly defined quantitative results, and kids are treated in fact as product widgets whose educational experience is reduced to performing to meet that rigidly defined standard.

Teachers, of course, will tell you that they care about each of their students, and of course they do. But the technocratic system is set up to incentivize teachers to care more about getting test results than caring about what each kid really needs--a broad, rich, quality education. Since teachers' livelihood depends on these kids getting results, teachers are incentivized to think of their own personal survival before thinking about the needs of the kids. So, sure kids, we care about you, but I got my own family to care about, too. And that's what leads to Atlanta, Philadelphia, etc.

SPS is not Atlanta, but that's where we're headed. Technocrats will blame the teachers rather than the system when Atlantas happen. Or they'll argue that they have to improve security or the quality of the test, but they miss the fundamental point. The test has become the tail wagging the dog, and the more adjustments you make the more vigorously shaken, confused, and sickened becomes the dog. It's Campbell's Law.

@Dan--I think your point about Auburn closing the achievement gap is really about their use of a more effective math curriculum. I'd argue, that's an example of focusing on quality and letting the quantitative measurements to take care of themselves. Any place you can improve quality, whether in instruction or in curricula, you're going to get good results. But quality is not what technocrats care most about--they care about control and conformity--and in fact their policies are working everywhere to resist quality when it conflicts with control & conformity. This explains why it's so difficult to get a waiver to teach Saxon or Singapore.

Jack Whelan said...

That last comment was by me.

Salander said...

SSD have also done a great job of concealing the facts of their administrative policies. The primary responsibility of building level administrators is to harass teachers even if that means they must falsify documents. Clover has lots of company.

mirmac1 said...

Wayne answers his phone, and has urged me to contact him directly in the past....

Dorothy Neville said...

Wayne's contact with SPS seems to be Noel Treat, not English. And Treat does appear to be both appalled by the truths that has been uncovered so far and determined to keep uncovering in order to change. Now, at least one of the issues I know about is almost ready to go public. We'll see for ourselves how effective the ethics contract is and how sincere the district's desire for change is.

Maybe I am too hopeful, but really, there is so little in district and other news to be hopeful about, a girl has to have some positive dreams, yes?

Inside as well said...

Dorothy, mirmac1

One of Wayne's investigators told me (in person) that Ron English is directing the city's efforts.

Nuff said?

As long as Ron is in that role, we will never get to truth. Just add layers of cover for English and his merry band.

Dorothy Neville said...

Inside, that is interesting. I do not doubt you. I just know that Treat is very involved as well and people I know who had talked with Wayne have gotten followup with Treat. I will ask him next time I see him, what the chain of custody or command or whatever. (I do have to say that even without hearing any controversy regarding Clover, it does seem rather odd, very odd that she be moved to the TIF director position. The job description seems nothing like a principal description, a completely different path.)

mirmac1 said...

If I were Noel Treat, with a relatively unbesmirched rep, I would not throw myself on the sword to protect the benighted techno-crats. Furthermore, I would not tolerate an underling like Ron English.

Jan said...

Jack said: they are creating a system where the kids serve the system, rather than the system serving the kid. Whatever lip service is paid to other ideas, Teachers are in fact valued only insofar as they produce these narrowly defined quantitative results, and kids are treated in fact as product widgets whose educational experience is reduced to performing to meet that rigidly defined standard.

My sentiments, exactly, Jack -- but you said it better than I could have.

Anonymous said...

I can tell you what an administrator at Auburn HS told me was the key to student success: "follow up with the kids on day to day accountability." You ask the kid every day where the work is, if they tried the strategy, if they did the reading- every day. All a kid who is behind wants to do is disappear. You don't let them disappear in your classroom. You don't let them blow out, you don't let the missing work go unnoticed (you don't humiliate them for not having it done, either; there are subtle ways of having these conversations). Pretty soon, the kid figures the path of least resistance is to do the work. That is how you get kids to improve, you notice them, you talk to them and you follow up- every day.
-one in a family of educators

WV would call this a wrablece- wrap around blanket of fleece -services

mirmac1 said...

But wrablece - that's not a catchy-enough phrase to serve SPS admin's purpose, which is to justify their existence.

WV: you are dinged

Anonymous said...

One idea that I learned from the Kumon lessons my kids did was that there was no failure.

In Kumon you just keep plugging away at your lessons. But the fact that you may be moving through the curriculum at a different rate than someone else is not described as a failure. If you stop working for a week because you were sick or caring for a sibling or decided to party, you don't fail. You just start plugging away again.

And the teacher was very careful to keep the level of work in a place where a kid could feel successful. If the work was too overwhelming, then the level was too high or the amount of work was too much. They changed it and slowly moved a kid up.

I don't know how this can be applied in classrooms. But I see too many opportunities for kids to fail. If homework didn't get done, then they fail that lesson. Or if it was done in the wrong way or submitted at the wrong time, it's a failure. A few of failures and then it is overwhelming & kids just give up.


Melissa Westbrook said...

One, that's how they are doing it in Everett and Tukwila and how their graduation rate is going up. Relentless attention to struggling kids.

I'm hoping the F&E levy passes and those same supports happen in SPS because our district hasn't made that choice for itself.

Jan said...

Parent -- you are so right. And it is a crying shame that in this age -- with tons of ability to use on-line technology to allow kids to progress at individual speeds, we don't do more of this in schools. The "golden ticket" here is learning -- acquiring knowledge and skills. It matters less whether you learn it in 2 weeks or 3 than it does that you just LEARN it.
I once knew a teacher at what is now WS Elementary who used this approach -- at HUGE cost (in time) to herself. For example, in spelling, there were no bad grades. If you "missed" words in the weekly spelling test, after working on them for X days, they simply stayed on your "personalized" spelling list, and you got them again next week -- and the week after, and the week after -- until they were right. Because each list only had 20 words (or so), it meant that some kids got 20 new words each week -- and some only got 14 or 15. If you got bored of the same words -- you learned to spell them right and get them off your list -- but every child ultimately spelled at 100%, at his/her own pace. Keeping track of multiple word lists was hard, as was figuring out how to give tests -- but she did it because it mattered to her that kids actually learn each word, and that they come to realize that they were successful spellers. She had similar arrangements for math as well. And I have seen this done at the high school level with geography. Of course, all of it could be vastly simplified using technology.

If we adjust our expectations to make it clear that the teacher sets the mastery bar -- but the child sets the pace -- we wind up with systems where all children become "mastery" learners. For many, as they gain confidence and pride in a job well done, they begin to set goals of achieving mastery with greater efficiency. But in no case do they just fail and go on to the next chapter.

TraceyS said...

I posted a followup last Friday, but it seems to have disappeared.

Briefly: I met with the principal, and my daughter will not be taking any more MAP tests in the future. I got a brief acknowledgement that we were not notified, and asked that parents be notified in advance when any baseline or makeup MAP tests are administered. I have not seen any results of her partial, invalid tests (she was pulled from class with no warning, and cried during the test because of it. Plus it was her birthday, and she missed recess, and thought she would have to leave the school if she failed the test. Poor bunny!).

I still have not heard from the Advanced Learning office about how current SPS students who do not have 2011 MAP scores will be handled. I will follow up more firmly again today and tomorrow. My older daughner, who is not in SPS, did receive a CoGAT test date, but my younger one, new to SPS this year and without last year's scores, did not.

I'll post again if/when I find anything out.